Following six days of flight cancellations and disruption caused by the Icelandic volcano ash cloud, Exeter International Airport is now back to its normal schedule. The closure of UK controlled airspace from Thursday 15 April until Wednesday 21 April affected 224 inbound and outbound Exeter flights but passengers are now flowing through the terminal again.
Matt Roach, Exeter Airport’s Finance Director said: “This was an unprecedented situation in which the management team needed to make quick decisions and react to a dynamic situation. Whilst the financial impact on our business has been significant, this would have been even greater without the support and flexibility shown by all employees. Our members of staff have been magnificent and I’d like to take this opportunity to thank them for their dedication. We are extremely proud of everyone.”
Exeter International Airport together with its car park, catering and shopping concessionaires employ over 300 people. During the passenger-free period many members of staff opted to take annual leave, some undertook training and others volunteered for jobs like painting and decorating.
Mr Roach continued: “There is never a good time for a close-down of services on this scale but the one small consolation is that the cancellations did not come in the peak summer season when we have flights to 46 destinations; twice as many as during the current season. Although April passenger numbers are obviously affected, we are seeing the demand for flights and holidays moving to May and June and our figures are looking promising for the early summer. We still anticipate that this will be one of our busiest summers on record. The increased capacity on our Turkey routes and the new flights to Tunisia will result in a greater number of passengers booking value for money holidays. Bookings for the Toronto service starting in May are also proving very popular.”
Whilst many travel plans were disrupted and hundreds lost out on their holidays due to the Exeter flight cancellations, others were delighted with extra days in their holiday resort.
The first inbound flight for nearly a week returned to Exeter from Lanzarote on Wednesday lunchtime with passengers who had enjoyed an up-graded, all-inclusive extra six day’s courtesy of their holiday company. Most had only praise for the way they were treated during the most unusual circumstances.